To expand the technical talent pipeline, various players in the alternative protein field should reach out to scientists and engineers in relevant disciplines (e.g., biotech, biopharma, and food science) to inform them of opportunities to apply their existing expertise to this field. Efforts should target students and seasoned professionals.
The cultivated meat industry needs dedicated suppliers of low-cost, food-grade cell culture media to reduce cultivated meat production costs. Close collaboration between the customer and supplier will be required in many cases due to the need for formulations to be optimized for specific cell lines.
To date, no robust environmental assessments have been conducted to compare alternative seafood to its conventional counterparts. An open-access, quantitative analysis of the relative environmental impacts of alternative seafood will help garner support for the industry from policymakers, nonprofit organizations, consumers, investors, foodservice outlets, and retailers.
A variety of plant-based scaffolds present the opportunity to combine the natural nutritional and structural benefits of plants with the taste and high protein of cultivated meat. Bacterial nanocellulose from coconut water is a particularly promising scaffold material with its FDA approval status and beneficial nutritional and cell adhesion properties.
The identification of non-animal, non-recombinant proteins with similar functionality to serum albumin and transferrin will lead to major cost reductions in cell culture media development, facilitating progress toward achieving price parity with cultivated meat.
Stretching of engineered muscle constructs has been previously demonstrated to induce alignment and maturation of muscle fibers, which is desirable for whole cut cultivated meat. Stretch stimuli could also be incorporated into a semi-continuous bioprocess in which a piece of tissue is expanded over time and portions of the tissue periodically harvested. The large amount of meat produced could offset the high initial cost of fabricating a construct capable of continuous growth.
Cultivated seafood will need to be supplemented with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to be nutritionally equivalent or superior to conventional seafood. However, how these compounds can best be incorporated has not been determined, and there are several potentially-viable strategies. Further research is needed to determine which strategies are most cost-effective and scalable and whether there are appreciable differences between methods in the quality of the final product.
The manufacturing capacity for rapid and cost-effective scale-up of alternative protein production is a current constraint on the growth of the industry. Repurposing and retrofitting stranded or underutilized assets such as shuttered bioethanol plants can help mitigate some of the financial hurdles and shorten the amount of time required for companies to expand production.
Interest in plant-based products is growing, but many consumers still express skepticism about plant protein foods, or simply lack familiarity with the category. Category marketing campaigns to promote plant-based and alt protein products, independent of specific brands, can engender familiarity and showcase recent innovations. Campaigns can emphasize flavor, convenience, familiarity, nutrition, and other positive attributes. Category marketing can help expand existing markets, increase demand, and promote alternative proteins for new markets and use cases.
Many alternative protein companies are interested in exporting their products or ingredients, and this is matched by interest from businesses in many countries eager to import exciting products. But import/export is a complex endeavor with many legal, logistical, and administrative challenges. There are many opportunities for brokers, directories, legal firms, and service providers to facilitate global trade in alternative proteins, including consulting services on regulatory compliance, facilitating introductions to in-country distribution partners, and aggregating listings of government support programs and trade contacts.